When Politicians Say They're Christian

Christianity is a huge "playing card" in the upcoming election, just like it was in the previous two. I'm not saying that we have to elect a Christian president (though, they're all claiming allegiances to the Church). Yet, for those of you who are holding to that view, let this video be either a reminder or an eye-opener:

HT: Leaven


  1. I wish we could keep Bush another four years!!

  2. James & Jason,
    Well, two quite different but similar answers; not ones that I can "second" though. BTW, Jason, do you share Bush's sentiments here?

  3. No way!! I think Bush is completely incorrect in his statement about who goes to Heaven. It would be hard to claim to be a Christian and think this way. The ONLY way to the Father is through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - other religions will NOT allow you to spend eternity in His presence. I had never seen this before and it is quite shocking, especially knowing Bush "claims" to be a Christian. I would like to talk to him about the issue.

    Also, I know you enjoy the focus being on Heaven here (imagine a great deal of sarcasm in my voice). That is what it's all about right...what we get?

    When I said I wish we could keep Bush I was, again, being a little sarcastic. However, he is a better option than any candidate that might end up in the white house.

  4. Edit my last comment by striking out "I think" to make the sentence read, Bush is completely incorrect...

    It doesn't really matter what I think but what Jesus told us during His ministry - and He told us Bush is wrong.

  5. sorry jason,
    i didn't detect the sarcasm. i'd agree w/you that he's better than mccain though.

  6. As someone who used to think in the same way as you, Jason, I find it fascinating to observe how you claim to base your thinking on "what Jesus said" and "what the Bible says". Yet you are focusing on the Gospel of John (which presents Jesus as speaking in the author's unique style, and is, from a historian's perspective, the least likely of the four to approximate Jesus' own words) and allowing some of its affirmations to completely block out of your view the places where Jesus praised Gentiles for their faith, and asserted that many such individuals would be present in the kingdom of God, without checking their adherence to the basic tenets of Judaism, much less those of 20th century Evangelical Christianity.

    If you wish to presume that on each such occasion, Jesus gave the individuals in question a tract about the "Four Things God Wants You To Know", and perhaps even prayed with them so that they accepted him as their "personal Lord and Savior", that is your business. But it would be appreciated by those of us who are actually committed to studying the whole Bible in detail if you would stop claiming that this is "Biblical Christianity". It just confuses people who don't know any better.

  7. James,
    I'm failing to see how Jesus praising Gentiles for their faith is skewing anything! Faith is the key word here.

    I'm also failing to see where the notion comes from that Jesus was attempting to convert people to Judaism (of course, there were various Judaisms under one common Judaism). His mission was not to win anyone to Judaism but to faith in Him (thus God). Those who placed faith in Him are the true Israel, not an existing strand of Judaism. His movement was orthodox but innovative all at once.

    Further, just becuase authors are more exclusive at some points and more inclusive at others does not mean that they are necesarrily disagreeing. This could, at various places, just mean that as the Church has always done, the writers were suggesting that while Christianity is exclusive as a monotheistic faith, it is at the same time inclusive, or to put it differently, an open invitation. Indeed, an invitation is always open to Christ while at the same moment the Church professes exclusive allegiance to Christ. I don't see the contradictions that you are raising here nor do I believe that they stand.

    Can God use the experiences that others have had in different religions? Absolutely. Paul affirms this time and again. But Paul also goes on to say that "ONLY" allegiance to Christ is what finally matters. Paul didn't think his faith up until the Damascus Rd. was in vain. Instead, he realized how God used that to get him to understand God's covenant in/through Jesus. But again, in the end, it's Jesus that matters and as I've reiterated on your blog time and again, all salvation comes through Christ and Christ alone.

    Thus, I don't think Jason is wrong or confusing in any way. I also don't think your analysis of John's work is defnitive for all of scholarship. Still, even if your analysis is correct, it does not negate any of what I've said above.

    I'm glad this discussion has gone where it has as it raises some important issues.

  8. I think your appeal to Paul is interesting, since

    (1) Paul says in chapter 2 that God will judge each person according to his works, and that there will be Gentiles who have responded to the general revelation they received and will be in better shape on the day of judgment than some members of the chosen people;

    (2) Paul uses Abraham as an example of the kind of faith he is talking about, and Abraham presumably did not know any of the distinctive doctrines of Christianity. Indeed, even by the standards of Judaism there are issues with some of the patriarchs' practices as depicted in Genesis. Presumably it was his attitude to God that was his saving pistis, and the example of Abraham seems to me to clearly show that it is not only Christians who can have that sort of attitude to God.

  9. The other piece with Paul is the much maligned and mis-interpreted passages from Romans 9-11. There it is clear that Gentiles and those who follow Christ have been included in God's covenant by grace. Indeed before this piece, Paul sets the stage in chapter 5 with a rather inclusive tone that through the death and resurrection of Christ, all now have access to this act of grace to be included in the covenant - Jesus' cup of the new covenant as it were.

    This is not just a new Israel, but a new kind of community established through grace. The question is this: looking at this through the atonement, for whom did Jesus die? Is it only those who give a visible and vocal pledge of allegiance, or is this a covenant of grace in which one is then judged by works and by this standard salvation is given?

    I think Paul is talking about something far more radical here and the medium of allegiance as we see specifically in Christendom as allegiance to the Catholic church as a political as well as spiritual entity and then in the Awakenings as a public profession of membership through baptism might just skew what this means. It is clear that works are important to Paul and works have been sent to the background by many Protestant traditions out of fear of Pelagianism in its various forms.

    Finally, following from this, is it baptism that saves as membership in the body, or something else in terms of God's grace in the resurrection to establish a universal body of Christ in the world?

    In other words it is very hard to address this question without framing it in terms of the extent and purpose of the atonement and the effectual purpose of baptism as incorporation into the body of Christ.

  10. james,
    to the first item, i would say the "chosen" people are those who have been baptized into Christ, etc., not Judeans, Judaism-adherents, etc. to the second item, i would say you're halfway correct. yes, the appeal to abe as an example is on-target however, it is anachronistic to even speak of "christianity" at this point. it is also, in my opinion, anachronistic to read back into those passages the "people of different faiths or God-experiences are saved too" notion.

    you're quite right in most of what you say, especially regarding baptism and covenant. as i pointed out above, the inclusive language, for Paul, always has an exclusive side to it as well (the 2-sided coin analogy might be good here). you seemed to have misread me when i spoke of allegiance. i didn't say allegiance to the Church (though that is expected). I said allegiance to Christ and Christ alone.

    the distinction you try to make between new Israel and new community is a minute one for me. i really wouldn't separate the two, they are one in the same. you can't have one without the other. again, i think you read me wrong here.

    finally, i totally agree with you about baptism. in fact, this is why i--bordering on what some would call pelagianism--would still say that baptism is "necesarry" but then again, that opens up a whole other argument. but it is also in-line with my view of Paul's understanding of inclusion and exclusion in the Body of Christ/relationship with God.

    good stuff guys!